Volunteerism – Take a Small Step, and Be the Change

We keep on complaining on many things and issues in our lives, especially those which affect the functioning of the society. For instance, we complain about the government and its functioning, we complain about the lack of civic sense of the people, we complain about bad roads, traffic jams, lack of water supply, lack of electricity, and many more. We are always ready to put the blame on others for any kind of disturbing situations in the society. But as citizens of the country, don’t you think that we are the people who can make the country or break the country.

Mahatma Gandhi had rightly said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. He also said, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Here, the idea of volunteering is implemented. It is actually the connection between the individual self and the community as a whole, an expression of doing something for the society, for the welfare of the society, imbibing the social values. In Indian culture and tradition, volunteering is a part of the ancestral history. It is said that to every action there is a reaction. In the same manner, our karma is a storehouse of good and bad actions.

It was Mahatma Gandhi who actually started the role of a volunteer in true sense of the term. He correlated volunteerism with human development. He added an important edge to the age old concept of philanthropic traditions in our country and paved the way for humanitarian work that was creative and constructive. He emphasised selfless service and worked for the betterment of the down-trodden and the deprived human beings. Not all people have this quality to go beyond his personal needs and welfare and do something for others.

Yes, of course, we cannot forget the names of Swami Vivekananda, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Dr Ambedkar, Mother Teresa, Baba Amte and others. Some popular Indian women who are involved in the voluntary works of the society in modern India are Medha Patkar, Shanta Sinha, Kiran Bedi, among others.

30 lakh NGOs in India?

There has been a mushrooming growth of social service organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in India. It is seen that India has a volunteering organisation for any social issues. India has an estimated three million NGOs. But, how far of these NGOs are successful in actually helping the underprivileged? Or how many of these are involved in true voluntary work? Only a very few of these are the genuine ones. Most others are set up solely with the intention of sucking people’s money in the treasury collected by the government, on the pretext of social work. You will feel sad to see the real face of these NGOs, the money-siphoning apparatuses.

On the grounds of humanity and selfless services, there are many areas in which the people of India can come forward and get involved in volunteering. India is a developing nation. The country still is steeped in poverty. The rural villages are deprived of basic facilities like as electricity or water or sanitation. On a larger scale, the country has still issues related to lack of education, health facilities, employment opportunities. Environmental problems have led to land, water and air pollution, mostly due to rapid urbanisation, industrial growth and public unawareness.

So, if you want, you can really be involved in voluntary works to make our country get rid of or reduce the basic social problems. In case of disasters, it is a call for the entire nation to get involved in helping others. While it becomes easier to do social work when you are a part of professional NGOs, you can also start on your own some kind of social services on a smaller scale.

How can you be the change?

A simple step of helping an aged pedestrian cross the road is a social service. You have taken the stray wounded dog to the nearby vet clinic. That is a social service. What about keeping your locality clean? Take the help of young children and adults in your locality and start a cleaning campaign. We keep on talking about pollution. Why not take the initiative and start a public awareness on environmental pollution? Why not start planting trees in your colony and let others follow you? Do you have a government school nearby? Why don’t you volunteer yourself to teach the students there for 1 or 2 hours? It can be any subject of your choice, be it music, physical education or English speaking. Or for that matter, start teaching your maid’s or driver’s children. Like we say charity begins at home. Instead of starting on a large scale, you start doing your volunteering work from home only. You can sow the seeds of good services in a small area and set an example for others to follow.

It is good to see some young Indians actively participating in social activities in India. More and more people should come forward to participate in social and voluntary works. In fact, children should be taught at an early age the benefits of social work. Schools should also get involved in providing education on voluntary services. Volunteering services by the people of our country will definitely develop Indian society in all dimensions.